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New Ford Focus

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The world is littered with the corpses of former “world cars” but Ford reckons it has the recipe right with the new Focus, which will sell all across the world in basically the same specification.

“When I started at Ford 30 years ago my job was on the Escort, a world car that had virtually no common parts,” said Bill Ford, great grandson of Henry Ford and executive chairman of the company. “I think we’ve got it right this time because the commonality is much more advanced and the world has converged in what it needs and what it wants.”

OK, but that leaves Ford with a small hatchback and saloon that is rumoured to start at $17,000 to sell to a sceptical US public, which only seems to buy small, fuel-efficient cars such as the Focus when fuel prices go through the roof. Ford had to strip out the original Focus to get the price down and get it to sell.

Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s vice-president for global product development, is convinced that the Focus will sell well, and points to the current Fiesta’s advanced orders despite its starting price of $14,000. He points to the Fiesta’s rivals such as the Honda Fit (Jazz) and Toyota Yaris, saying the Fiesta has more features, is better looking and it drives better. “I think Ford sells at a bit of a discount over here,” he says.

Either way, this “One Ford” strategy is a huge gamble for Alan Mulally, Ford’s chief executive. The company’s previous world car, the Mondeo, cost Ford $6 billion and flopped in North America. Either way, the new Focus seems a pretty good-looking car and arrives in the UK next year.

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